The corpse was dead. It was dead for real. It was not the purple
intestines hanging from its stomach cavity or the missing left eye that assured
me of this. Nor was it the maggots writhing under its skin or the stomach
churning stench of rotting flesh. No, the only thing that gave me comfort, that
the dead man would not reach for me and moan for his brethren, was the
perfectly round mark of a bullet entry wound in the middle of his forehead.
“Jane! Stare at it too long and maybe it will get up and try to eat you,” a harsh, gravelly voice yells
from behind. “Is that what you want?”
“No, Sir,” I say.
“Then get to work!”
I drive my stainless steel drag hook into the corpse’s
soft flesh and jerk, catching hold of the clavicle. You learn in short order not to rely on flesh
and tissue alone. Only the recently dead have the tension required to stay
together; more decomposed bodies tend to fall apart when you start to pull on
them. I drag the corpse across the field
to Lewis, where he's using a pitchfork to heave the dead into a burn pile.
“Hey Jane! Over here. Gimme a hand with this one,” Emily
I start toward the teenage girl. There are a dozen of us
out in the field on clean-up duty today. That’s what you get for being “useless.”
In my previous life I had been a public relations mouthpiece for one of the big
defense contractors. Before everything had fallen apart I would spin even the
worst of public disasters to look like they had been not only intentional but
also critical to national security. I had been held in high esteem for my
ability to save the hides of the powerful and I had been well compensated. But
that was a different time and my silver tongue hasn’t gotten me out of clean-up
Lewis had been a lawyer. Sam had been an HR director. Tom
had been a Senior VP of something. Chris, John and Carson were accountants and
MBAs. We had all been someone important, but now none of that mattered. We
had no real skills so we were relegated to the dirty work. Somehow we had
managed to survive the initial outbreak, mostly because we had a knack for reading
personalities and hedging our bets with the right people. But once the rules
were defined and some semblance of society was regained we found that social
status had been reshuffled and we were no longer at the top. There was no place
in this new world of death and survival for legalese and buzzwords.
At the top are the real leaders, those that are honestly
capable of inspiring followership and creating innovative solutions to terrifying
problems. The next tier is made up of what had been the blue collar workforce:
welders, electricians, mechanics, plumbers, farmers, and anyone else with a
useful trade that could actually produce something. Below the doers is the soldier
class, those that can wield a weapon or fire a gun. Technically, eventually,
all of us fell into that class but some are better at it than others; some did
it for survival, while others thrive as warriors. And then at the bottom are
those without skills and those without bloodlust. We, who had once run the
world, are now the grunts.
“Big one,” I say to Emily and hook onto a bloated
“Fresh, too,” she grimaces.
A body is heaviest right after death. First death, that
is. After a corpse has bled out, its organs putrefied, and its water weight
lost, there is little left to a body. Obvious as it is, this is something I had
never considered prior to being assigned to the clean-up crew.
Together we haul the corpse, making small talk and
avoiding thinking about who the man had been.
“Have you decided who you are going to apprentice with?” I
“Ma wants me to go with Carolyn Thomas.”
“She does beautiful work. Lewis has one of her sweaters.
It’s rare to find that these days.”
“Yea . . .”
“But you don’t want to work with her?”
“It’s nothing against Carolyn. She’s great. I’m just no
good with needles. I can barely sew my own buttons back on; much less make real
clothes for people.”
“Emily, don’t worry about it. That’s why it’s called an apprenticeship.
She’s going to teach you what you need to know, not the other way around.”
“Yea . . .”
“So what do you
want to do?”
The girl sighs. “I always thought I would be a writer. But
. . .”
“Hey someday we will need writers again. We will get this
mess cleaned up and we will have newspapers and books and all that stuff.”
“We will. Look at how far we have come in just two years.
Most of us were still running from the dead, fighting to survive. Now we are
part of a community again.”
“In the mean time, go talk to Keith.”
“Olsen? The engineer?”
“It will be technical writing but he’s been looking for someone
to help him with his notes and writing up repair and maintenance instructions.
You’ll get plenty of hands on mechanical experience but he also spends quite a
bit of time designing improvements. A little creativity will go a long way
working with him.”
“Huh, I hadn’t really thought about doing something like
My next thought is interrupted by an echoing gunshot on
the edge of the field.
“All right kiddies, that’s our cue to GTFO. Lewis, torch
off that pile. The rest of you get back behind the fence,” the clean-up boss
Emily and I finish dragging the corpse to the now blazing
fire and quickly but carefully make our way back to the safety of the fence,
leaving the gunners to drop the approaching herd of cadavers. Job security for
the clean-up crew.
“Emily, whatever you do, make sure you learn a skill that
won’t earn you a permanent spot on the clean-up crew.”
Merry Christmas. I hope everyone is enjoying the holiday season. I know we are all very sad that we survived the apocalypse and that there haven't dead corpses running around looking for some face to chew on, but I do have to say that I have had a nice couple of days. I did a little skiing. Good food. Good friends. Good family. We even had a little bit of snow today. But the best part? Check out what Santa left in my stocking.
Merry Christmas! I hope Santa brought you something as violently delicious.
People are wicked excited about today, the 21st
day of December in the year two-thousand and twelve. Me? I’m not so humstrung;
I play with the idea of the apocalypse every day. In fact, I’m pretty sure that
the apocalypse actually began the day I graduated college and became a “real
person.” But I have decided, just in case the world does explode into the fiery inferno of hell and this is my last opportunity to write
something, I should make the most of it.
My friends Apples (short for Appleton) and Molly are
hosting an Apocalypse Party at their house in the middle of nowhere. Upon
leaving town (some of you might even consider “town” a stretch) you drive
thirty minutes through cow country and then turn onto a small but paved road.
After a few minutes the pavement disappears and you will turn onto increasingly
smaller dirt roads until you are on little more than a goat path through the
woods. Though these roads are relatively short in distance, less than two miles
in total; they are, paradoxically, excruciatingly long and it will take you no
less than twenty minutes to reach your destination. The potholes are like
craters and boulders reach up out of the gravel. So, unless you have a death
wish; hate your automobile; or have four-wheel drive, a lift kit, brush guard,
and all-terrain 35s; you take your time and pray that you don’t meet another
Once you arrive at their home you will find yourself in a
large field with a log cabin placed in the middle. Behind the cabin is a bog
where only the beavers and the black-flies go. In front of the cabin is the
more sanitary and usable pond. The other two sides of the field are bound by
pines thick with puckerbrush.
Tonight, I will be driving out to this party to ring in
the apocalypse with a bonfire, debauchery, firearms, and possibly snowmobiles
(there is a blizzard currently scheduled). And so, the following is a series of
8 flash fictions, or perhaps non-fictions, depicting ways that tonight could go
horribly wrong, or horribly right (depending on your perspective). The setting
will be constant, my friends’ party; as will be the cast of characters: Apples,
Molly, Fish (me), Clark (my roommate), Tony (my brother), Alison (Tony’s
girlfriend), Laura (my best friend), Gary (Laura’s husband), and a few other
expendables who are on the guest list but I don’t actually know.
So without further ado, I bring you The Apocalypse in 8 Acts.
Act I: Disgrace
The party goers stared in awe at the angel or demon, whichever
the case may be, standing before them. He was lean, muscular, and stood a full
head above even the tallest in the group. His jet black hair was swept back
into short spikes. Giant, black feathered wings sprouted from between his
shoulder blades. When he had arrived his massive wingspan has blotted out the
moon. Their expanse and inky nature seemed to suck all luminosity from the
scene; not till he had landed and neatly folded them, did the light return.
He stood proud and dominant, seemingly unaware or
unbothered by his nakedness. Perhaps it was the scythe that he carried with him
that kept him from feeling shame or humiliation.
“Tell me what great deed have you done for humanity?” His
voice boomed and the mortals quaked as they felt his words reverberate within
“Who, among you, can step forward and lay claim to having
made the greatest impact on this world?”
His questions go unanswered.
“Are none worthy?”
“Then tell me this; who, among you, will do a great deed
for humanity? Which of you, if given the chance, will create something beautiful,
discover something profound, or become a great leader?”
Still, his questions remained unanswered.
Anger and disgust flashed in his eyes and his powerful
wings spread wide. “Mortals! You have been given the greatest of gifts and you
ignore them. You have no desire, no will, no pride, and no confidence. Take
heed and fear my words, for all of you shall feel my wrath before the night is
“You have one hour to unanimously produce the most
promising among you. I shall allow him to live. Fail to produce him and all
With a whoosh of
air, he alighted and disappeared into the winter sky.
Act II: Abominable
“Apples, how the hell are we supposed to have a bonfire in
this shit,” Fish asks as she pops the top off another beer.
I look out the window. The second real snowstorm of the
season is showing no signs of letting up. “Don’t worry about it, kid. Fire
melts snow. Best possible time to have a bonfire.”
“Whatever, let me know when you get it going. I’m staying
here where it’s warm,” she says and plops down on the couch.
“All right pussies, let’s get this started,” Gary says,
“Clark, get the whiskey.”
Clark grabs the bottle of Jameson from the kitchen table
and we put our coats on.
Outside, I curse as I try to get the pile to light. I had
spent the better of the week prepping for the fire and stacking up brush from
around the yard. It had been brown and tinder-dry, ready to go up in flames
without warning just this morning but with a mix of snow and rain sleeting down
everything had become wet and nothing was going to behave.
Clark bends down next to me and takes the lighter from me.
“Let me try.”
“Be my guest.” I step back and take a swig off the bottle
of whiskey Gary hands me. “Shit, it’s nasty out here.”
“Good night for an apocalypse,” Gary laughs.
“True story, bud,”
“Fuck! This paper is all too wet. There is no way we are
getting this thing going.” Clark gives up and reaches for the whiskey.
“Screw it. The girls had the right idea,” I say.
“No shit. If this is the apocalypse, they’re gonna’
survive while we’re out here dickin’ around in the snow and ice,” Gary adds.
As I head back toward the cabin, I pause at the sound of a
branch breaking. I stare into the woods, looking for the source of the sound.
“It’s heavy snow, branches break,” Clark says.
“I think there is something out there. See, next to that
birch tree.” I point into the shadows. The sun sets early this time of year and
with the storm there is no moon.
“I don’t see anything,” Clark says.
“Just give me your flashlight,” I demand. He hands it over
and I flick it on. The beam settles on the birch and persuades the mysterious
shadow to move as it dodges the light.
“What was that?” Gary gasps.
“I told you there was something out there.” I swing the
flashlight in an arc trying to locate the shadow.
Suddenly, the ground begins to rumble and shake. An
earthquake? No, it’s not the ground. It’s a growl. As the realization hits me,
the beam of my flashlight finds its target. The light reveals a creature
covered in white fur that must stand at least nine feet tall. Its eyes glow red
from a canine face. It lets loose a shrill howl that echoes throughout the
night, only slightly muffled by the snow. Seconds later, the sound of falling
snow is broken by three more howls, each from different points around the
“GTFO,” I yell at my friends. Without waiting for a
response from them, I spin around and sprint towards the cabin. The deepening
snow makes it difficult for me to run; each step is fought by slush and ice.
Behind me I hear a scream and then a savage wet ripping and cracking.
I don’t look back. I keep running, but the heavy, sloppy
mess around my feet makes the distance to the cabin impossibly far. I hear
another shriek of pain and angst, quickly silenced by more ripping and
shredding. My throat burns as I fight down bile. In my panic, I slip on the
greasy ground and fall hard to my hands and knees. Howls let loose all around
me and I know that I am next.
Act III: Delayed
“Give it up, Tony, you’re lost,” Alison says from the
passenger seat as we bounce down the ever narrowing dirt road.
“I’m not lost. We’re almost there. I think . . .” I say.
“Just stop and ask someone.”
“Stop and ask someone? Who the hell would I ask?” I take
my hands of the wheel and gesture to the woods around us. “Maybe you want to go
back to that junkyard where oldsmobiles go to die?”
Just the thought of the
place makes me shiver. We had seen the last sign of a neighbor back a mile
where there were dozens of oldsmobiles, all in rough shape, parked haphazardly
in the woods. There had also been a half-assed fence that couldn’t possibly
keep anything in or out and I, for one, didn’t care to find out which purpose was
“Chicken? Bok buk buk bok,” Alison clucks at me.
“Look we’re here,” I say as we pull into the clearing. The
fire is roaring and it looks like there are quite a few people standing around
it. “My sister is already here.”
“Hey guys! I brought the good stuff,” I say and wave my
bag of homegrown as I approach the fire. It is eerily quiet except for popping
and crackling of the bonfire. There are a dozen people staring into the flames,
standing perfectly still with their shoulders slouched and arms hanging by
From a distance, I recognize a few people: Apples, Molly,
Clark and my sister. No one turns to greet me. No one acknowledges me.
I put my hand on my sister’s shoulder. “You high or what?”
She turns around slowly to face me. The fire flickers and
casts shadows on a gaunt and hollow face. Her eyes are blank and unintelligent;
a loan moan escapes from her lips. I step back without taking my eyes off from
her, my movement seems to snap her from her trance because she lunges toward
I take another step backwards and stumble into arms that wrap tightly
around me from behind. My cry of surprise quickly turns to a shriek of pain
when my hidden captor clamps onto my cheek with his teeth and then rips away
the soft flesh. It is only then that I notice the inconspicuous bite on my
Act IV: Tongues
“Dude, she’s speaking in tongues,” Gary says.
“She’s just drunk off her ass.”
He shakes his head. “Look at her.”
I look at Fischer, she sits cross legged on the ground less than a foot from the fire and stares intently into the flames. After a moment I notice her lips moving ever so slightly.
“Hey, Fish! Who ya’ talkin’ to?” I ask.
She ignores me and continues her discussion with the fire.
“Face it, man. Your woman has lost it.”
“Yea, it’s probably time to get her into bed,” I say with a sigh. It looks like it will be a long night of taking care of Drunky McDrunkerson. I rise to my feet. “C’mon kid, it’s time to get you to bed before you hurt yourself.
As I approach, her head snaps up. She is more alert than I had thought. In a single fluid and agile motion she hops from her crossed legged position to a low crouch that makes her look like a hunting feline. It gives me pause. Her eyes glint in the light of the dancing flames. She is beautiful and feral and, in that moment, I want nothing more than to embrace her, and love her, and be loved by her. And then, in the fraction of a second that it takes to blink, she is gone; I am left staring at an empty patch of dead grass next to the fire.
Act V: Snowmageddon
“It’s a good thing you guys planned to stay here anyway,”
I say, looking out the window. The snow has piled up quicker than any of us
No one acknowledges my remark. The bonfire and all other
outdoor activities had been quickly postponed by the weather. No one even
wanted to go play around on the snowmobiles; the wind is whipping and the
bitter cold has driven any motivation from our souls. Instead we sit around
playing cards and drinking spiked coffee and hot chocolate.
Around midnight the snow is halfway up the window. Four
feet. That is some serious snow. Maybe Alaska gets snow like that, but we do
not. It takes a winter full of storms to get this much ground coverage. I have
never before seen it in a single storm.
At two in the morning, a high pitched screech jolts me
awake. I run out of my room and look down at the main living space from the
second floor balcony; Molly follows close behind. Below my friends are waking up
bleary eyed, scattered about in sleeping bags. The large picture window has
cracked from the weight of what has to be more than eight feet of snow behind
it. The window groans and fights against the mass. I watch in horror as the
window finally gives way, shattering in glittering shards on the floor. The
snow immediately begins to pour in, seemingly joyous at its space to grow.
Gary and I scramble to the basement where we grab a sheet
of plywood, some sheetrock screws and my screw gun.
With the window blocked and all of us wide awake, we sit
around listening to the creaking of the house as it holds back the elements.
The power goes out and it begins to get cold in the cabin. Another window breaks
under the strain of the relentless storm.
Molly takes a swig off a bottle of Jack. “It has to stop
Act VI: Heat Wave
“I thought it was supposed to snow?” I ask. The sun is just
setting and it is unseasonably warm. It must be my imagination, but it seems to
be getting warmer as the sun sinks lower and lower and the sky darkens.
“Molly, no complaining. Just be thankful we don’t have to
stand around a bonfire in a blizzard,” Alison says.
“I’m not complaining; just commenting,” I say.
“Wow, that fire is hot!” I say, stepping back from the
flames. The distance does little to calm the slight burning sensation on my
“It’s not the fire. It’s fuckin’ hot out,” Apples says,
walking towards the fire. He has changed out of his jeans and hoodie into a
t-shirt and shorts.
“Babe, are you crazy? It’s the middle of December,” I say.
“And it’s fuckin’ hot,” he replies.
I look around the fire pit; our guests are backed well
away from the flames and have stripped off their outer layers. Beads of sweat
are forming on my own forehead and I can’t shake the burning tingle of my skin.
Apples hands me a fresh bottle of hard cider, I gratefully
accept it and take a drink to quench my parched throat.
“Ugh! Why didn’t you get me a cold one out of the fridge?”
I force down the rest of the bottle; it is piss warm, as
if it had been sitting in the sun all day.
Sitting around a dying fire, kept alive only for its
light, we sweat in the heat. The thermometer on the tree outside the kitchen
window says it is ninety degrees. We have stripped to our underwear and are thoroughly
blitzed from chain drinking every liquid in the house and then promptly
sweating out the water content.
“That’s it! I’m going swimming,” Alison squeals. She runs
towards the pond shedding her bra and panties as she goes. The rest of us are
quick to follow. She dives in with a splash and her blood curdling scream stops
us in our tracks. We watch in revulsion as she drags herself from the water
onto land and her flesh sloughs off in large sheets; leaving behind wet tissue,
glistening in the bright moonlight.
Her screams stop and she collapses in a heap. Apples and
Tony rush forward; Tony grabs her under the arms and Apples grabs her by the
feet, together they carry her to the cabin
Suddenly, it is unbearably hot. So hot. I can’t remember
ever being so hot. The tingling burning sensation on my skin has escalated to
the feeling of being on a spit. My lips are cracked and my throat dry; my head
throbs from the heat, alcohol, and dehydration. It hurts to think and it is
hard to breath. I’m not even sweating anymore.
I am vaguely aware of Fish as she comforts a sobbing Laura.
Then, I remember Alison. Is she ok? Where is she? I remember her being carried
from the bank of the pond. How long ago was that? It seems like it was hours
ago, but it could have been only seconds. Turning towards the cabin, I catch
sight of the pond; it boils violently in the silver light of the moon. And then
I am enveloped in suffocating blackness.
Act VII: The Hunt
The flames of the fire double in height and turn green as
they give birth to a demon sent for malignant purposes. The creature is slight,
only three and a half feet tall, with long sinewy arms and legs. His thin scaly
tail, nearly as long as he is tall, whips and flicks about, reminiscent of a
cat’s. But don’t be fooled by the creature’s diminutive stature because his lizard
face reveals clever eyes and hides a devious mind.
The demon looks around and frowns, momentarily disappointed
that his spectacular miracle appearance went unnoticed; the party goers are all
out of sight, refilling their refreshments. His mood quickly brightens as he
sees one of the humans emerge from the cabin. His thin lips spread to a wide
smile and expose a mouth full of jagged, needle-fine, teeth that reflect the
light of the moon.
flames revert to orange and yellow, the demon mutes his own scales to a matt
black which allows him to vanish into the night. His hunt has begun.
Act VIII: Last Call
“It’s kind of beautiful in a morbid we-are-all-going-to-die
kind of way,” Molly says.
I take another sip of my margarita. “Yea.”
“How long now?” Laura asks.
“It’s interfering with my cell reception. Weather.com said an hour about forty
minutes ago,” I say.
“I’m gonna need a re-fill,” Laura says with resignation.
I pick up the pitcher of the green liquid and pass it to
my friend. “This is the best part about drinking in the winter. The snow keeps
your drinks cold without ice.”
The still of the night is broken by the high pitched whine
of snowmobiles approaching.
Clark pulls up and lets the engine idle. “Wanna do it?”
“Sure,” I say as I climb on behind him. We fly off into
the darkness, towards the cabin for one last tryst before the end of the world.
I don’t bother to say goodbye to my friends who remain reclined in lawn chairs,
drinking margaritas in the snow, and staring at the giant ball of flame
hurtling in the night sky towards the Earth.
Over the last few weeks I have been slow to post. I have been focused on promoting my book and as a result I have not written as much as I would have liked. This morning I got up and said "Fish, you're going to sit your ass down and work on something. No advertising, no selling, just writing." And that was the plan.
Plans change. My plan changed. See, the thing is, I write horror. I dream of the apocalypse. I create monsters. But today we do not need horror. Today, I do not need to create a monster. Today, we are faced with real life horror and tragedy. We are faced with a real life monster. It just doesn't feel right to create something gruesome and grim when it already sits in our backyard gnashing its ugly teeth.
I couldn't do it. I couldn't bring myself to add more fear to the world on a day that has already seen more than its share.
I love my genre and I rarely consider the work of my peers and heroes gratuitous. Horror has its place. It provides an escape. It allows us to explore the deepest and darkest depths of our imaginations. It allows us to create something that shouldn't be possible. But I can't go there today. I need to be in the light.
And so, I have a challenge for you. Do something beautiful. Create something from love. Create a smile or laughter. Do something that brings this whole damn apocalypse of a day to a screeching halt. Counterbalance the monstrous deed. Do something in the light.
My thoughts are with the families in Newtown and the religious fence sitter in me hopes that there is something else waiting for those little kids, maybe even a second chance.
“You have a very promising career right here. You know
that, don’t you?” Mr. Philips says. He sits behind his desk with his hands folded
neatly. His phone rings but he ignores it, he doesn’t even steal a glance to
check the caller ID.
I am the one to break eye contact and I divert my eyes to
the window behind him. I focus on the greenery and blooming spring trees, they
are at odds with his stark white office. A squirrel scampers out onto the limb
of the nearest tree. It is thin from the long winter but it is energetic and full
of life and freedom. It brings a smile to my lips.
His voice brings me back inside and my smile vanishes as I
lose my connection to the fuzzy critter outside. “Yes, Mr. Philips. I know.”
“There are going to be excellent opportunities in the very
near future. You just need a little patience,” he says. His brow is furrowed
and the intensity with which he stares at me makes my stomach flip-flop.
The dread that has been building in the pit of my stomach
makes me want to give in. It makes me want to surrender and say ‘yes, I’ll be a
good little powder monkey,’ but I can’t. Not now. I have come too far.
I take a deep
breath. “I know. But this isn’t about my career. It’s more personal than that.
I feel like this is the right decision.”
Mr. Philips frowns and finally drops his gaze to his
folded hands. He unfolds them and tents them, tapping his fingers together.
Suddenly he looks ancient and tired. His thinning hair seems just a little bit
thinner. The grey seems a little bit greyer. His bright eyes, always ready for
a challenge, look cold and dull. “I understand, I just . . . I had hoped you
would be my replacement.”
My shoulders slump under the weight of the guilt that is
piled high. “I know, Mr. Philips. I feel terrible about this.” I feel like I
have betrayed him, like I have abandoned him. “I want you to know that
appreciate everything that you have done for me.”
He nods but continues to look like a broken man.
“I feel like . . . I just feel like I would regret missing
an opportunity like this.”
“Yes, Kate. I understand. Since it seems like you have
made up your mind, I wish you the best of luck.”
“Miss? What would you like to drink?” the flight attendant
I am slow to respond. I had been staring out the window at
the endless clouds, re-playing the conversation with my boss over and over
again in my head. “Uh, I’ll have a Coke. Thanks.”
“You can’t be serious about this?” my mother screams. She is
furious. Her face is beet red and a vein stands out in the middle of her
forehead. Tears stream down her face.
I stand in front of her with my arms crossed defiantly. But there
is nothing defiant about me; I can’t even bring myself to speak.
“It has just been the two of us for so long and now you’re
going to leave me?”
I had promised myself I would stay strong and stand my
ground but I can feel my resolve breaking apart as the tears begin to well.
“Aren’t you going to say anything? Or are you just going
to stand there and stare at me?”
My throat burns as I try to hold back the emotion and I
try to make the words come out. “I have to do this,” I whisper.
“Ma, I have to do this. I want to see the world.”
She glares at me, deadly fire dancing in her eyes. She
rakes her hands through her dark hair and shakes her head.
“Ma, I’m afraid I’m gonna spend my whole life in that
office, just working. I want to do something crazy. I’ve never been anywhere. I’ve
never done anything.”
“It’s just two years?”
The fire in her eyes dies to a smolder. She crosses her
arms and shakes her head again. “I guess you’re gonna do what you wanna do.”
Her voice cracks and sounds weak. I have never seen my mother lose her fight,
I awake to the ding of the plane’s intercom.
“This is your captain speaking. Please return to your seats
and put on your seatbelts. We are approaching a little weather and may
experience some turbulence. Thank you.”
“What do you mean you don’t want to get married?” Andrew asks
as he rolls out from beneath his jeep.
“I can’t marry you,” I squeak.
He jumps up from his creeper and stands in front of me wiping
the grease from his hands on his coveralls. “Is this about that damn job? I
told ya if you really wanted to go, I’d go with ya.”
I shake my head ‘no.’
He wraps his arms around me. “Baby, I love ya. I’ll do
anything for ya, even if that means movin’ half way around the world ta’ live
with them China people.”
His arms are so safe and secure. His words are so
comforting. He does love me. He always has. The tears flow freely as I nuzzle
into his shoulder. I have caused so much disappointment. How can I do this to
him? How can I do this to the people that love and trust me? How can I just
walk away from everything I have here?
I push away from his embrace and cross my arms to keep him
from trying again. “I have never been alone. I have never been on my own. I
have to do this. I have to find out about myself.”
His face falls flat as he realizes I have made my
decision. “I’ll wait for you. It’s only two years. I’ll wait for you.”
“You don’t have to,” I say, letting my eyes drop to the
“I’ll wait for you,” he says.
My eyes snap open as my stomach drops and there is a
collective shriek from the other passengers on the flight. I am jostled about
as the plane shutters and shakes from turbulence. The little yellow masks have
dropped from the overhead.
“Ladies and gentlemen we have experienced a rapid drop in
cabin pressure, please put on your oxygen masks and remain calm,” a female
voice says over the intercom. Despite her request, she sounds anything but
I reach for the mask and place it over my face. I turn to
the man sitting next to me and I see his eyes are wide and filled with fear.
Children are crying and the woman behind me is sobbing. The plane groans and
creaks. It dips and pitches. The plane sounds as if it is going to rattle to
pieces. A man begins what sounds like a prayer in some foreign language; he is
quickly joined by others until it is a panicked chorus, pleading to whatever
god they follow.
I have abandoned my family. I have left everything I have
ever known. I have left my only home. I am all alone on this plane that surely
seems like it will never meet its destination. But somehow I am calm. There is
something oddly reassuring about this horrific situation, as if it is
validation that I needed to experience more; that I needed to be my own person
and find my voice. Well I have found my voice and if I make it safely through
this, I will make sure to use it.
“Did you see that?” Larson’s mechanized voice buzzes in my
“Larson, maintain operational silence.” My voice comes out
high pitched and incomprehensible, like one of those damn singing chipmunks on
crack. After a moment of lag I hear my mechanized voice over the com system.
Larson knows better than to squeak so much as a ‘yes, Master
Chief.’ He’s a good kid and damn fine diver, but he is too friggin’ jumpy for a
mission like this. He aced his quals and can lay a mean weld at 500 fsw, but he
sees too many ghosts. The oppressive pressure of more than 450 psi squeezing in
and the suffocating blackness of the deep gets to him. Instead of being
satisfied with the meager light thrown out directly in front of us by our
headlamps, he lets his mind create demons that fill the abyss beyond his short
arc of knowledge. The kid sees too many ghosts to walk the depths blind.
On 10November 2013 at 0130, the USS George Washington sat in the South
China Sea and watched a Chinese transport bird disappear from radar. The
Commander immediately pulled back all vessels and planes in the vicinity and
placed his squadron on alert, he was not getting blamed for this one.
At 0410, I got the call to rouse my crew and be ready on
the Sasebo tarmac by 0600. At that point it became a game of hurry up and wait.
Moving the SATFADS team is a marvel of modern logistics. We are six of the most
elite deep divers in the world, two control centers built into the shape of
standard shipping containers, and a bang-up surface support crew. Give us three
C-130s and platform and we can put men on the ocean floor, more than a thousand
feet down, anywhere in the world.
By 1800 we were installed on the USS Denver and prepping to make our first dive. The Chinese bird
sat in 1,200 fsw (publically we only dive to 1,000) and it was to be
reconnaissance only. Easy peasy. We’d drop in the water, take a look around,
give the brass some fuzzy footage to analyze till the cows come home, and then
we would hop in the bubble, ride to the surface and decompress for the next
Easy peasy. That’s what I kept telling myself. Routine
mission. Keep calm. Breathe steady. The brass tells us what we need to know to
get the job done and we always get the job done. Get in, do the job, get out,
go home to your family. Hooyah! But it’s hard. Left in the dark long enough,
even the Master Chief will start seeing ghosts.
“Master Chief, is it true that they called us?” Larson had
asked as we prepped for the dive.
“Kid, it doesn’t matter who called who. The boss says dive,
so we dive. That’s all that matters,” had been my answer. It was straight out
of the textbook. It shut him up as we finished our checklists, but the kid is
smart. The same thing that was gnawing on me was gnawing on him. Since when did
the Chinese start calling us for recon missions on their lost military gear?
At 1200 fsw the pressure is unimaginable, almost
unbearable. It squeezes in around you and fills every nook and cranny, always
looking for that beautiful balancing act of equilibrium. Here the ocean is
master, and no other element dares to challenge it. All light from the surface
is blotted out. The astronauts claim with arrogance to walk the most
inhospitable environment imaginable. They are wrong. At least they have vision.
At least they have the sun and stars. At least they have the view of home. Walkers
of the deep, we have nothing but the eternal darkness of the planet’s hostile
It takes years of training to develop the fortitude and
focus required to tune out and ignore the monsters the brain creates to fill
the emptiness. It’s inconceivable to the mind that there is nothing filling the
void beyond our infinitesimal lights and so the mind dances and plays. It
creates and destroys. It becomes god and devil simultaneously.
There is a madness that consumes you as a diver in the
down deep. A fine line between raving lunatic and glorious adventurer. The
solitude engulfs you. Even though your partner stands beside you on the rocky
bottom and you have a direct line of communication to him and the surface crew,
you are completely alone and yet completely dependent. You are hours from the
surface and days from being able to breathe unassisted. Even once you are back
on the surface in your chamber you still must endure the painfully slow climb
as they drop the theoretical pressure by minute increments. You must suffer
with the knowledge that if anyone was to undog the hatch prematurely, you would
die instantly as you embolized and every airspace in your body exploded to
balance the equation and create splendid equilibrium. It is this knowledge that
creates a shiver that even the hot water lines coursing through your dive suit
“Master Chief, there it is,” Larson says. His mechanical
voice doesn’t relay the trepidation I am sure is there.
Grey particles of both life and death swirl and dance
before me, obscuring the visibility. But sure enough, the edge of a wing pokes
into sight at the far reaches of our beams. Step by step, we move our weighted
boots closer and closer to the wreck. We wade slowly and deliberately, the
pressure of the deep resisting our every move.
“Blackman to Surface,” I say, “I confirm Larson’s
sighting. We have located the target.”
“Roger, proceed with tagging.”
“Aye,” I answer. I keep my words short. They are precious
in the deep. The narcosis is ever present, always drifting just out of sight,
like the ghosts. Too much effort, too much exertion and it can take over. I’ve
seen greater men than I, debilitated by terrifying fits of maniacal and deadly
laughter brought on simply by the squeak of their vocal chords under the
influence of nothing more than helium and pressure.
I make my way to the fuselage of the plane, looking for a
strong anchor point. I can only see bits of it at a time, illuminated in the
small swaths afforded by my headlamp. The rest of the craft belongs to the
demons of the dark.
“It looks to be intact,” Larson’s voice echoes.
“Yep,” I say.
“There is a pad-eye here.”
I cast a sidelong glance toward my partner and illuminate
his bulky form, trying to avoid his face. He has located the gaping entrance of
the forward crew door, which has been blown free and is absent. I move to his side and a pull a surface marker
from my belt. I clip it to the pad-eye, pull the cord and watch as the CO2
cartridge faithfully does its duty and inflates the yellow bag, a rocket
to the surface pulling 1,500 feet of line.
“Marker One released,” I say.
The seconds tick by; they grow and stretch into minutes
and then an eternity. Time is unnatural at depth.
“Marker One has been sighted. Commence external survey,”
the Surface confirms.
“Aye,” I say.
Larson and I move slowly around the craft, an exaggerated
dance with the supreme element. Each step is heavy and deliberate. Each step is
exhausting. No movement is wasted. We take turns watching the other’s
umbilical, our lifeline to humanity.
Larson’s initial assessment is largely true. The aircraft
is intact. The windows have been crushed in from the pressure and the nose
gapes open from a water impact. There are signs of warping and stress from the
depths but there are no signs of critical failure. This plane was not shot
down. Whatever brought this mistress of the skies to the abyss was borne from
“External survey complete,” I say as we return to the crew
“All vital stats are normal. How do you guys feel?” the
“Good to go,” Larson says.
“Hooyah,” I answer.
“Proceed with internal survey,” the Surface orders.
“Aye,” I say.
I dim my light and look directly into Larson’s faceplate.
His eyes are wide and can’t hide the fear the way his mechanical voice does.
“Are you ready for this?”
Before the dive, I had warned him. There would be corpses.
It’s the nasty detail of this type of work. He is not new to death. Most of us
serve as public safety divers at some point in our careers. There, it is our
duty to bring lost souls to rest. He told me once about a little girl he had
pulled from the intake of a sewage treatment facility. She had fallen into the
river, drowned and become lodged downstream. No, he is no stranger. But in the
down deep, it is different. With the jungle drums pounding in your ears, the
pressure pushing in, the blackness enveloping you, and the ghosts taunting you;
you can’t know for sure how you will react.
Larson bobs his head. “Hooyah.”
I turn back to the penetration. Dark tentacles of imagined
demons skirt the edge of my vision as I stare at the mouth of the cave. Why is only this hatch blown? If you were
going to evacuate, why wouldn’t you go out the jump door? Is the fate you are
escaping so grim that you would risk hitting the prop or the wing?
I can feel the madness creeping ever closer. Even the
Master Chief sees ghosts.
Larson pulls himself in through the door and disappears. I
shake my demons free and follow behind.
“Oh fuck . . . fuck . . . fuck,” I hear Larson’s
mechanical voice echoing in my head.
“Larson, your heart rate is through the roof. Get it under
control!” the Surface screams through the lines.
“Chief . . . Chief.
I’m narcn’ hard man,” Larson’s voice echoes inside my helmet, eerily calmed by
the mechanical tuner.
I push in deeper and stand next to him. Our lights cast
ethereal shadows in front of us. My jaw drops and I have to fight the urge to
“Help me Chief I’m narcn’.”
There are corpses strewn throughout the cabin. I count
four; there may be more but our lights limit our view. They half float, half
lay on the aluminum deck material. They are mangled; they look as if they have
been torn apart. One is missing an arm; another’s eyes have been ripped from
their sockets. Entrails, crushed by the pressure to lean ropes, have been
ripped from the cavities of all those visible. I have retrieved bodies from
plane crashes before and never have I seen injuries like these. Nor does the
damage look to be done postmortem by the creatures of the deep looking for a
meal. In fact the crabs, hagfish, and other scavengers are conspicuously
missing from such a feast.
From the corner of my eye, I see Larson fall to his hands
and knees in the slow motion of the deep. I watch as his body convulses and I
know he has vomited into his helmet. Part of me envies him, but my brain knows
the results could be deadly and my training won’t allow it.
“Chief, something’s wrong . . . they shouldn’t be moving. Why are they moving?”
echoes in my helmet.
I step further into the cabin. The gruesome corpses are
not the only casualties of this flight. This was a transport flight and on
either bulkhead is a row of soldiers, strapped into their flight seats. There
must be at least sixty of them. Why didn’t they try to get out? When the plane
went down, why didn’t they evacuate? Why did they just sit here and watch as
the cabin filled with water to take them to a grave in the South China Sea?
But for all my questions, Larson’s is the ultimate.
Constrained by their harnesses, the corpses writhe and move as if reaching for
me. They seem to be pulling at their restraints, trying to get to me. Their
arms are all outreached and their fingers claw at the water. They’re eyes are
black, stained with the blood of their burst eardrums and capillaries. Their
jaws snap open and closed.
“Blackman to Surface. Something is wrong. I . . . I don’t
know if you guys have fucked with the gas or something, but this dive is over,”
I say and turn back to Larson.
“Surface confirms abort, return to the bell.”
I pull the diver to his feet and guide him out of the
wreck. There is no sprint, no mad dash. In the down deep movement is without
urgency, without emotion. We retrace our umbilicals back to the bell and we climb
inside for the ride to the surface.
“Chief, did you see what I was seeing? They were moving,
like they were trying to get at us.”
The Surface did not confirm what they had or hadn’t seen
through the video feed. They were silent on the status of our gas. They were
silent on our neurological outputs. I have known narcosis. I have danced with
her treacherous creations. But never have I shared the same hallucination with
another diver. Never had it been so controlled, so consuming, yet so sane. I
had not been lost to the madness and I had been able to easily and rationally
walk away from the vision. That was not narcosis.
“Don’t worry about it, kid. Just the ghosts of the deep,”
I'm back! I am also quite pleased to say that I only checked my e-mail once during this past week. That is what I call a vacation. Sure my number of blog hits and new Facebook fans took a serious hit because of it, but it was totally worth it. Every now and then you just have to step back and get away from the old glowing screen.
So I'm back and pumped up just in time for Small Business Saturday.
An independent author trying to sell her self-published book, yep ultimate small business. Small businesses work hard and rely on the strength of friends and family, high quality, commitment to customer service, and good word of mouth. They don't have the networks or the personnel redundancy to take a break or delegate the workload. When a small business owner takes the day off they loose profit, sometimes even income. So vacations and time off tend to be few and far between.
Small business owners do not know the meaning of "not in my job description." They are CEO, CFO, President, Manager, Secretary and Janitor. They work every job at anytime. They don't have working hours, they work until the job is done.
These hardworking people run the businesses that drive our economy. They brew the coffee at your favorite little cafe. They flip burgers at your local diner. They sell you that half-gallon of milk at the corner store you stop at on your way home from work. They knit that fabulously soft sweater you got your grandmother for Christmas last year.
They are your friends and family. They are your neighbors. Without them you loose variety, independence, creativity, and true customer service. Without you, they are nothing. Skip the door busters and the box stores, support your local small businesses.
If you would like to support this small business, here are a few ways you can help.
From the beginning of
time, my brother and I have played a game. Over and over again we have watched
the pawns drag themselves from the boiling seas onto the land. We watch as they
morph and change, as they grow and learn. I cheer and my brother curses as
their creativity begets beauty and love. My heart breaks as I watch their
knowledge give birth to civilization and with it competition, aggression, and
It is always the same.
We watch them rise, so graceful and
elegant, only to fall into the abyss. Their creations are stunning and unique, never
exactly the same but always an echo of the shadows of their failed brethren.
They begin as the most basic of elements and transform into the most complex of
alchemists, forming technology far beyond our own ingenuity. But despite their
resourcefulness, since the beginning of time, no matter the scenario, the
result is unchanged.
The most infuriating
part of the contest is that the prediction of their demise is their own. The
names that they have for it are numerous: Doomsday; Ragnarok; Armageddon; Mokushi;Reckoning; Apocalypse; Kali Yuga; Judgment, they
all foresee the end, yet not once have they altered their ultimate path.
After an eternity of
repetition I have finally realized their tragic fault. Though they have named
their destruction, they do not possess the grand vision of the gods to understand
the true nature of their annihilation. Their myths rain down fire and brimstone
and tell of cataclysmic events. They see it as retribution from enraged idols.
They view the end as one moment in time where suddenly they will cease to
For all their
brilliance, they could not be more wrong. The rules explicitly state that
neither my brother nor I may intervene. Mankind is a furiously burning blaze
that cannot comprehend the eons and epochs that pass in the single blink of my
eye. To me, yes, their end is as swift as the snuffing of a flame. But to these
fast moving creatures, their true Armageddon is so slow and gradual that it
will always go unnoticed.
I had hopes for this
current consignment. So many times they have been on the brink and, to my
surprise, been able to pull back from the ledge. But now I sit upon my perch
and watch as the seas rise and listen to my brother’s gleeful laughter and I
know that I have, again, lost.
I tire of this game.
To never win, to never see success, is disheartening. There was a time, with
every new round, when I felt hope and a naive optimism. Every new culture that
was birthed was a new opportunity for utopia and ascension to nirvana and
divinity. But to continuously watch such magnificent beings perish at the hands
of their own devices, tears at my soul. Perhaps this will be our final match
and after an eternity of trials and failure I will finally cede the wager to my
Know someone who has an eye for the dark and disturbing? Someone who likes to spend their time doodling demons and monsters of their own twisted creation? Someone who has an imagination filled with apocalyptic visions?
I am looking for a starving artist to help add some visual character to my short stories.
This is not currently a paying gig, but it is an opportunity for artists in different mediums to help each other out. My own promotional efforts will be linked with your work. So, every time I get a new "like" or a sell a book your work will be seen.
Think about it. Hit me up (firstname.lastname@example.org) if you have ever wanted to have a story to go with your devilish designs.
A comment from a would be reader got me motivated today. I took the next step and prepped the format of Rising Tide for Smashwords distribution. It took a few hours and I had to re-size my cover a bit, but I think I've got it.
You can now purchase Rising Tide in the following locations.
Boy could I use an apocalypse today. A horde of brain munchers pounding down my door would really help distract me from life and put things in perspective.
You know the worst part of having a bad day? Knowing that your drama is inconsequential and life is actually pretty damn good to you. I have a roof over my head, food in my belly, a loving family, and good health. That should be enough. That's all that really matters. But the thing is, no matter how many times you tell yourself that, it doesn't make you feel any better. It's part of the human condition. We always want more, we always want better.
Wanting more and wanting better is not a bad thing. If humans didn't have the drive to learn, grow and improve we would still be living in a cave, chomping on raw meat. But sometimes I feel like sitting in a cave and chewing on mammoth parts might be better for my mental health. But then again, I wonder if I might be sitting in a cave, pissing and moaning about how Grog got the liver and tenderloin and I just got the leftovers.
Sigh. Such is life. Oh well ... tomorrow is another day and there will be more to follow. I'll just have to fight harder for my tenderloin the next time.
I make it a point to keep my politics separate from my work. Sure I have my own set of beliefs, biases, ideals, and interests and they will always influence my writing. There is no way around it. These are things intrinsic to who we are and they shape everything that we do. But, I take care and make it a point not to thrust my political views upon anyone. I write to escape, to entertain, to thrill, not to lecture or sway. I may pontificate from time to time, but not to convince you that you are wrong and I am right.
But voting is not a partisan issue. I don't care who you vote for, just make sure that you do it. It is a far greater thing to vote and lose knowing that you participated than to sit idly by and let choices be made for you.
I know, I know. I can hear you now. "The system is broken." "One vote doesn't matter." "All politicians are full of shit." Yes, yes, I know. Trust me I know. I come from a teeny tiny state with only four electoral college votes and on top of that, they can split the vote. Yes, I am familiar with the feeling of insignificance. But that is not the point.
The point is standing for something, no matter how hopeless, and taking responsibility for yourself. The day that we start relying on others to make the right decisions will also be the day that we lay out the red carpet and herald in the apocalypse.
Think of a post apocalyptic scenario. Pick one. Zombies. Plague. Nuclear war. Aliens. Whatever floats your boat. You have that vision? Now, what kind of government is there? Where are the polling stations? How many parties are there?
Huh? What's that you say? You see warlords, dictators, rule by the biggest gun and survival of the fittest. But what about the elephants and the donkeys? Gone you say?
Do you know why they are gone? Because people have given up. The dead walking the Earth? Big deal, that's a bad day, maybe a bad decade. Nuclear fallout? Yea, that's a bad century, maybe a bad millennium. But none of these scenarios become an Apocalypse until all hope is lost and we given up trying to survive.
I know what you're saying. "Fischer, you're crazy. You can't compare not voting to giving up on survival."
But here is my answer to you. If you don't have the fortitude to stand in line for ten minutes to check a little box to stand up for what you believe in, how the hell do you think your going to be able to stand up against a horde of undead trying to eat your face?
I don't know about you, but I am quite distraught that Halloween is over. It's the one time of year when it is socially acceptable to express your twisted and demented creativity. No one questions your gory creations or your violent prose. But 31 days is all we get. One short month to let loose and be accepted for the terrifying images that unfold within our imaginations.
isn't fair. Christmas gets to sprawl across the better part of four months and
then sometimes even makes an appearance, for some strange reason, in July.
Christmas is the holiday of charity, love, and kindness; and therefore you will be ostracized for trying produce anything evil or monstrous during
Old Saint Nick’s reign.
During the 31 glorious days leading up to All Hallow's Eve, we are gods; heralded for evoking nightmares and bringing our demons to life. But the rest of the year we are relegated to the dregs of society, considered merely low brow entertainment.
"There is no class in horror," they say. "There is no skill required."
I reject this sentiment. I will not be pigeonholed onto one page of the calendar. I will battle year round for the nightmares that dwell within us all. Stand with me and together we will fight the good fight!
Ox swings the door wide and stands in doorway, blocking my view. His curse is just barely audible. "Sir, this doesn't look good."
"Proceed," Dragon answers. "Back in formation. Tighten up. No mistakes."
Immediately, Squirrel and Otter fall into place on my right and left, Dragon falls back behind us. As Ox cautiously moves further into the Dungeon and away from the door, I begin to see what had him concerned.
We enter onto the mezzanine that overlooks the laboratory called the Dungeon. I have no idea who it was that first started calling it the Dungeon, but it is fitting.
It is a cavernous lab in the bowels of the building, filled with tools and machines only understood by the pasty engineers and scientists that call this place home. One quadrant is filled with cages of an assortment of monkeys, rodents, and other test subjects that howl for their freedom. Other than the designated zoo, to the uninitiated, there is no rhyme or reason to the equipment scattered throughout the lab. There are dozens of computer work stations and everywhere that you look there are rows of test tubes or a mass of wires pulled from some unfinished project. Large constructs and machinery take up great swaths of the floor. Cubical dividers are placed haphazardly; I imagine that their location changes daily at the whims of the Gods that rule this place. The creative genius of the minds at work in this space have to be allowed freedom to flex and move, to grow and contract.
Today, it looks more like a dungeon than ever. It glows red with emergency lighting and it lacks the hustle and bustle of the brilliantly scatterbrained and perpetually distracted.There are signs of violence; shattered glass covers the cement floor where beakers and test tubes have been smashed. Workstations have been overturned and their contents left broken on the floor. But it is the bodies that make this place look like a mid-evil dungeon. The mezzanine is too high and the lighting too dim for me to see the details, but it doesn't take a coroner to identify a body as dead when it is sprawled unnaturally in a pool of dark liquid. From my perch I can see at least a dozen. From my knowledge of this place I know that that there must be more. A lot more.
I crawled from the water. Born of the raging sea, I was
spit out from the depths of the darkest abyss. I rode the great curling waves
of my mother’s design to the shore of the huddled masses. They crowded together
in fear of what they did not understand and what they could not control, little
did they know that control and knowledge is all a fanciful creation devised to
help them cope with the enormity and magnificence of the Gods.
For a millennium I incubated in the tremendous pressure of
my mother’s unfathomable womb, until I cried out and demanded my freedom. At first
I was refused; she said I wasn’t ready. But I would not be dissuaded and I began
my ascent to the human world without her blessing.
One after another, she sent her henchmen to thwart my
attempt and drag me back to the realm of her influence.
First, it was the monsters of the void that dangled crystalline
lights of splendid distraction; their glow so sublime my voyage became nothing
but a forgotten dream. After a decade in a trance of ecstasy, I remembered
myself and resumed my expedition.
Furious, she sent the ancient one; a great behemoth of
teeth and fury who had watched in horror as his brothers left the sea and
abandoned their fins for claws and fur. He fought bravely with honor and
loyalty. He vowed that he would never again allow his kin to leave the place of
perpetual darkness and everlasting life. He was bested, unable to contain the
power of my curiosity. He nodded his great prehistoric head and bowed to my
strength. I sent him back to my mother with a message of commitment and
Next, she sent a demon invisible to all but her. He did
not attack with fangs or poison. Brute strength was not his forte. Instead, he
brought the vicious message from my great mother that she would wake Poseidon,
himself, if I did not obey. Indeed the threat gave me pause, but I pushed
forward and prepared to meet my end.
She did not rouse the Nautilus King. I had called her
bluff. Even the grand mistress of the moon doth not dare disturb the Great One’s
slumber. I glided forward, ever upward, carried by my powerful strokes of fin
Sensing my eminent success, out of sheer desperation, she
sent the kraken to reason with me. His muscular tentacles dominated the epic
battle that wore on for a century. His cunning matched my every move and I
thought for certain he would be the victor. Never before had I faced a foe so
fierce and so clever. I grew envious of his abilities and wanted them for my
own self-serving desires. As my jealousy matured and developed, I gained sight of
the aura of his prowess. As I continued to brawl and tangle with the ancient
beast, I began to devour the gleam that surrounded his every move. It filled me
and became my own until at last he was nothing more than an empty husk of his
Invigorated by my newly obtained power, I roared at my
mother and challenged her to send her fastest and strongest soldiers; to them,
I would do the same as I had the others. For a year I floated silently and
waited for the Goddess’s answer. When at last it came, it was from a small
unassuming surface dweller. The message was simple. It is time for you to meet
your father, my son.
After centuries of fighting against them, my mother’s
currents carried me swiftly to the surface where my head emerged to draw in the
salty breath of my father. He welcomed me with winds of heroic proportions. My
mother’s surge and my father’s gusts married and created foam and spray; together
they paid tribute to my coming of age. Their union spawned a sibling, though
short lived she would be, to guide me to my ambition.
My young sister pushed forth and drove me up onto rocky
shore. Suddenly, I was filled with doubt and called into question my judgment,
crying out that I had been wrong. The immense goddess I called mother had been
right, I was not ready. My sister pummeled the shoreline with the winds of our
father and the rains of our mother. She roared that she had not been born only
to die. She had been created and formed with a purpose, to deliver me unto a
world without fins and gills. Her wrath was intoxicating and soon had me
I dragged myself out of the water, weak limbed and awkward
as a larval creature controlled only by miniscule flagella and the dominance of
the tide. At last I stood on my feet and was able to grasp the truth. My dying
sister’s rampage echoed my sentiments. I had crawled from the water. It was not
I who was not ready, but humanity.
reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, or stored in a
retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic,
mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise without written permission of
Big news! I am planning on brightening up my blog with some artwork. Well . . . maybe "brighten" is the wrong word, because the subject matter is not going to be puppies and kittens, but I think you get the picture.
I already have one artist that is interested and I may be posting some of his work on Wednesday, to coincide with the posting of the conclusion of True-Self.
But, since the gig pays shit (nothing), I am looking for multiple sources so I don't interrupt anyone's real life.
I know. I know. At this point you are saying, "Leigh, why would I want to spend my precious time producing something for you? What am I going to get out if?"
That is an excellent question and I have five excellent answers for you.
1. You will get your own profile on my blog and full recognition for your work.
2. If you already have your own blog I will post a link to it and regularly promote it through my updates here and on Facebook.
3. Promotion of my work will also help promote your work. Yes, I have a promotion budget. Yes, it is tiny. But every little bit helps and in just the last few weeks I have seen the benefits.
4. In addition to being asked to provide images inspired by my stories, I will also ask that you provide your own unique work that I may use as inspiration. You could be the catalyst for my next great piece.
5. And the best reason to join Surviving the Apocalypse? You will get early read-aheads for all my stuff.
Not sold? Well I have one more answer for you.
6. As I grow, you will grow. I can't promise you fortune or fame, but I can promise you 100% commitment. Once I commit to something, I am not easily dissuaded. I'm not giving up. I'm not going home with my tail between my legs. I am going to keep writing and keep trying. Once I set something in my sights, I drive forward with a vigorous and enthusiastic passion. This passion, this drive, this intensity, is what I am offering you. Climb aboard and see if you can hold on.
So if you or anyone you know is interested in what I have to offer, I have your first challenge: